"If you'd please wait in the rec room, sir, then Major Carter and Doctor Jackson will be joining you in a little while. There's some refreshments over there," the lieutenant pointed to a table, "if you're hungry or thirsty."
"Thank you." Martouf walked into the recreation room and found a chair to sit and wait for SG-1 to finish their post-mission medical check-ups.
He had been called here to help Sam and Daniel translate some ancient Goa'uld tablets from a planet called Dhokana. Daniel had only been able to translate few words here and there, and Teal'c had not recognized much of the dialect either. To be honest, Lantash was not confident that he would be able to contribute much, especially if the tablets were as ancient as it sounded.
Anise would have been a far better choice, but she was currently unavailable, and would not return for another month. The SGC had not wanted to wait that long, so Martouf and Lantash had volunteered to try and help.
Martouf leaned back in the chair and looked around the room. He was very interested in the Tau'ri and how they lived. No one else was currently in here, and he decided to examine the room more closely, when he could do so without anyone considering it strange.
Magazines were scattered across several of the tables, and Martouf picked up one of them, which had the words 'National Geographic' written across the front. He flipped through it. *Pictures from the Tau'ri homeworld, I believe?*
*Seems correct. They appear to have quite a varied culture - that place looks like it could be on Tuan, if it weren't for the colour of the sky and the lack of silver trees.*
*I agree...and this one could be Abydos, actually. The main temple?*
*No, the temple entrance is different on Abydos...besides, the text says it is from Egypt.*
*Egypt! That is where Ra, and many of the Goa'uld lived when they were on this world. I would very much like to see that...country.*
*I share your wish. Perhaps, soon, the Tau'ri will allow us to visit more than just this base!*
*I hope so as well. It is quite dull here. I am relieved, actually, to see that not all Tau'ri live on bases such as this one.* Martouf threw the magazine on the table and walked to the nearby bookshelf. He noticed what he recognized as a Tau'ri calender on the wall. *April First.*
Lantash groaned. *Then we must be careful. Remember last year?*
*How could I forget! We had just returned from a mission with SG-1, and they invited us to join their 'team night', here on the base.*
*That was an error! It was the First of April, and apparently this gives you the right to play 'practical jokes', as they call them, on unsuspecting people,* Lantash 'scoffed'.
Martouf sighed deeply. *It had started already on the mission, but we did not know it then. Do you remember? We were sitting, peacefully, eating our breakfast, when suddenly our bag started making noises. We opened it, only to find a fire lizard had somehow gotten into a closed bag. Well, it was not pleased, and jumped directly at our face!*
*How could I forget! It closed its jaws around our nose and hung there for several seconds, before we managed to dislodge it! It was very painful, as well as humiliating. O'Neill howled with laughter!* Lantash sounded angry now.
*So did several of the others - even Teal'c. smiled! Of course, I assume we must have looked quite hilarious, but even so! In any case, O'Neill denied having done it, but Samantha told us later she had seen him with the creature, even though she had not known he had put it in our bag. I believe she was quite angry with him.* Martouf was pleased at this.
*Yes, she told him it was childish.*
*To be fair, O'Neill admitted his guilt later, and he even apologized, saying he hadn't expected it would go for our nose - but still. Anyway, later that day, when we arrived for this 'team night', someone had sabotaged the water tap. When we attempted to pour a glass of water, it sprayed the entire front of our clothing. The 'pizza' slice had a scary looking insect - later revealed to be artificial - on the top!*
*Do not forget - we were also given a small pie, which were supposed to contain some sort of vanilla-raspberry filling. At this point we were suspicious, of course, and examined it carefully, but when all seemed to be in order we took a bite from it.*
*And the pie contained a very strong mustard. Yes. I remember. The last humiliation came when we quickly grabbed the cup O'Neill gave us, and drank from it in order to wash away the burning taste. When we put down the mug, everyone stared at us and started laughing. O'Neill had put some sort of food colouring around the rim, and we now had a mark on our face.*
*Fortunately it was easy to wash off, but I will never forgive him!*
*That was when he sang 'April Fools'!* Lantash spat. *And laughed like a maniac! We must have our revenge on him!*
*We do, though I do not yet know how we shall accomplish this!* Martouf agreed, trying not to think of the subject, as it made him irritated. That would not do, if they were to work with Samantha. He let his gaze glide over the titles on the books in the bookshelves, then picked up one of them and opened it. *Interesting. I believe this is a story about the past of this world.*
*Surely not! I have never heard of wizards and dragons existing on the Tau'ri! And don't change the subject!*
*Lantash, I don't have any good ideas for...'pranks' right now.* He focused on the book again. *Why would they print a lie? Ah, this is fictional, of course! We had such stories on my home world as well.*
*Yes, I agree. This is make-believe. It makes sense, of course, since this room is for recreational activities. I wonder if they have no group-activites? Is all they do in their spare-time solitary?* Lantash allowed himself to be caught up in the study of Tau'ri culture, though he did not completely abandon his plan for revenge.
*That is strange. I see no indications that they have games of any kind, which are otherwise common on most worlds, just as they are among the Tok'ra.* Martouf kneeled beside the cupboard at the bottom of the bookshelf. It was locked, but the key was in the door, so he turned it and opened it.
*I believe you just found some of these games.*
Martouf nodded. *Yes...there are severel boards, and I believe this is shatranj pieces, and there are also pieces for a game such as qirkat.*
*No yi, senet, or mehen game, unfortunately - those are among my favourites.* Lantash commented, as they looked over the content of the cupboard.
*No - but several other boxes of games unknown to me...as well as dices and a kind of card game.*
*We must ask Samantha or Jacob to teach us some of these. In return, we could perhaps teach them some of our games.*
*Yes, that is a good idea. Not all interaction between our peoples should be focused on the war against the Goa'uld. We need to work on creating a better relationship between the Tau'ri and the Tok'ra, if we are to work well together.*
*Maybe there will be time during our visit? Surely, not all time must be spent on dreary translations!*
*We shall see. Don't forget; we are here to help.* Martouf closed the cupboard and stood.
*We didn't get much to eat today, since we overslept. Perhaps we should take a look at those refreshments?* Lantash suggested.
Martouf walked over to the small kitchenette, and started looking through the cupboards and drawers, which turned out to contain mostly plates, bowls, cups, pots, utensils, and such. He found some boxes with...popcorn, which he believed he remembered they had eaten for a movie night with SG-1. There was also packages with different kinds of snacks and candy. He put them aside, deciding they would do only if he did not find something more substantial.
On the counter stood several apparatuses...there was a microwave oven, which Samantha had shown him how to operate, a coffee machine, and an electric tea kettle, as well as something he believed he had seen them toast bread in. There were also two hot plates, should anyone care to cook. They looked very clean, so that was probably a rare occurrence.
On the other side of the counter stood a bowl with several kinds of fruit and a large box of cookies. There was also a refrigerator, with soda, milk, some bread, cheese, and a box with cut meat, which he judged was probably chicken. On the bottom he found a few vegetables in a box - resembling ones he knew from the Tok'ra.
*What would you like?*
*Maybe some bread with cheese and those pieces of cut meat...and perhaps a few leaves of the abu...and some fruit. Give me control, and I'll put together lunch for us.*
*Of course.* Martouf mentally 'stepped back', and Lantash came fore.
He immediately grabbed a plate and started stacking bread, cheese, and other stuff onto it, before setting it down on the counter. He moved a few items around in the refrigerator, searching. *Did you notice if there were, perhaps, some mustard somewhere?*
*Yes, I believe you hid it behind the bread bag when you put it back in the...refrigerator.*
*So I did.* Lantash plucked the jar from the shelf and put it on the counter beside the plate, then busied himself with making a couple of sandwiches.
Remembering an unpleasant experience last time he visited the SGC, he carefully sniffed the milk before pouring himself a glass. He then looked at the fruit, and picked a handful of grapes and an apple, before taking all of it to the small table beside the chair Martouf had chosen earlier.
He had only just had time to take a few bites, when General Hammond entered the room. He quickly put the sandwich down and got up. "Sir." He bowed his head in a polite greeting.
"Relax, son, and eat your food." He glanced around the empty room. "I had hoped SG-1 would have joined you by now." He sighed. "Would you do something for me, Martouf...eh, Lantash?" Hammond corrected, realising he had noticed the man's voice had been flanged. "Listen, I've just got a call that my youngest granddaughter has broken her leg, and she's asking for me, so I'll have to leave immediately. Could you give Colonel O'Neill these papers? We got them from Washington earlier today, and I need him to read through them and write a report - a summary, and give me his recommendation. There's no hurry - next week is just fine, but I'd really like to get the papers to him now."
"Yes, of course, sir." He took the papers Hammond held out to him. "I hope your granddaughter will recover quickly." He added, politely.
"Thank you." Hammond smiled at him. "Oh, and please do not leave this stuff unattended. It's not really that secret, but there's some sensitive information in there, and it would be unfortunate if it got out from this base."
"Of course. I shall be careful."
Hammond nodded, then left quickly to go to his granddaughter.
Lantash glanced at the top paper, and read the text on it.
Department of Defense
The Need for a New Base Structure
Real property inventory - Cheyenne Mountain subsection
*It sounds even more boring than something we would be asked to go through.* Disgusted, but pleased O'Neill would have to contend with it, he put the stack of papers on the table and resumed eating his sandwich. After a few moments, he suddenly snickered.
*What is it? You sound like you have gotten some sort of devious plan. I am slightly scared.* Martouf complained.
*I know exactly how we're going to take our revenge on O'Neill! Lantash quickly flipped to the bottom of the stack of papers, and found a blank sheet. *Perfect! Now I just need a pen...* He got up and walked to the cupboard with the games. *I think I saw a couple pens in there, presumably for noting down scores.*
*Are you going to tell me your plan?*
*Sorry, of course.* Lantash found a pen and returned to the table, again finding the blank sheet at the bottom. *I intend to give these papers to O'Neill, as Hammond requested. However, I shall not tell him it can be done at his leisure, but instead that it needs to be finished tomorrow. He will have to work all day, and much of the evening in order to achieve that, and he will not enjoy it! I remember that he is quite the procrastinator when it comes to things like this. Oh, he is going to whine and complain and feel sorry for himself the whole time!* Lantash grinned happily. *How very fortunate we had Jacob teach us how to read and write this language!*
*It's a great plan!* Martouf said, impressed, as he imagined how much O'Neill would hate it. *Truly, it is a fitting revenge. What are you going to write?*
*It is the first of April, so I shall write 'April Fools'. Do you think I should put my name also?*
*No, that will not be necessary. He will know. After all, we were the ones to give him the papers, and deliver the message from General Hammond.*
*You have a point.* Lantash carefully wrote 'April Fools' on the sheet, then put the other papers on top of it and made sure the stack looked undisturbed. He then went to put the pen back where he had taken it.
Martouf suddenly 'grinned'. *Do you not think O'Neill shall wish for something to snack on while doing this work? I believe Doctor Jackson made a joking remark about this, when last we assisted SG-1 - that he always wished for something to 'munch' on, when he is feeling sorry for himself. I remember the snack in question as some sort of thin, crispy potato flakes, with a sort of red spice, which has a hot and tangy taste.*
*Correct, but we have also seen him and the other members of SG-1 eat small, salted nuts, and cookies. Hmm...what is your plan?* Lantash asked, interested.
*Perhaps he will grab something from the refreshments in this room - if we knew what, we could, ah, enhance the taste of the product. I think I saw some jars with spices in one a shelf over the, ah, microwave oven.*
*You're right. Excellent.* Lantash grinned manically. *Let's have a look at the options.*
*Cookies.* Martouf observed.
*Yes, but we cannot sabotage a whole box, just to assure we get to the ones he will take. We don't want anyone else to suffer.* He picked up the half-full box of cookies and glanced into it. *I believe I shall hide this, so he will have to choose something else.* He looked around and finally decided to put it in the cupboard with the games, hidden at the back. Returning to the kitchenette, he started looking through the options. *There is actually little here that he is likely to take. Wonderful.* He stuffed the last bag of salted peanuts into the small bag hanging from his belt, and noticed with satisfaction that the only option left was a bag proclaiming it contained 'Hot & spicy barbecue chips'.
*He will love those!*
*Yes, normally he would!* Lantash snickered again. *Now, what to add to them, and how do we do it, so it will not be obvious the bag has been tampered with?*
*There is a problem, however. The bag is air-tight. That makes it impossible to make a small hole and pour anything into it. We also do not have anything to glue it back together if we open it.*
*True...* Lantash thought it over, while searching shelves and drawers to see what he could find that might be useful.* Hah! I know! See, there is a very sharp knife here...we use it to cut a thin slit near the edge, pour pepper or whatever into the bag, and then melt it back shut. The material is what the Tau'ri call plastic and will melt easily. We can use a utensil which has been heated on the hot plate!*
*Not a bad idea, but the bag will no longer look unopened - as it is now, there is a great deal of air inside. Also, if we do this, then I think...chili is a better suggestion. Lots of it. O'Neill will not suspect anything at first, but soon he will feel his lips and mouth burn!*
*I love how you think! Hmmm...yes, we can solve the problem of the missing air in the bag. See?* Lantash opened one of the drawers and searched for something he had noticed before. *Ah, here. These long, thin, plastic tubes are often used by the Tau'ri for drinking. We can use it to blow air back into the bag, then hold the small hole closed until we can melt the bag closed again. Trust me, it will work!*
*Please, try it. I shall watch.*
Lantash did as he suggested, adding a healthy dose of chili to the bag, then blew air into the bag, and used a knife heated on the hot plate to melt the bag shut. He succeeded on the second try. *Hah, did it!*
*Impressive. I had not thought it would work.*
*Of course it worked. It was my plan!* Lantash insisted, shaking the bag to make sure the chili was well distributed. He then put it back in the cupboard where he had found it, ignoring that Martouf mentally rolled his eyes at his bragging.
*Okay, nice. Now give me control, or you go back and eat the rest of our food before someone shows up and suspect anything.*
*Do you think we should do something to the drinks as well? He will want something to drink after eating some of these chips!*
*No, this is enough - as I said, we do not want to get caught and all of this to be for nothing.*
*All right, I can see your point.* Lantash sighed, then walked back towards the chair and the table with their food.
*What do you think the large flat screen is for?* Martouf suddenly asked, drawing Lantash's attention towards it.
He walked over to it, and started examining it. *Perhaps it is for communication? The glass front looks like it could be some kind of screen or monitor.* Lantash suggested, giving Martouf control when he was just about to ask for it.
*Maybe...* Martouf spotted what looked like buttons below the glass front and ran his fingers over them. Nothing happened.
*Careful! Maybe it's some kind of emergency communication system!*
*In the recreation room? I doubt it! It seems to be defective, though. Nothing happened when I touched what I believe is the control mechanism.*
*Much Tau'ri technology requires you to press somewhat harder on the buttons to activate, than what we are used to!*
*Hmm...yes, I believe you are correct!* Martouf pushed the button, hard, and the device activated. He jumped back when loud speech suddenly emerged from it.
*What have you done!* Lantash admonished.
Martouf stood a few steps from it, staring at it as a picture of some people wearing uniforms and carrying weapons appeared. "Uh, hello? I am sorry, but I did not mean to contact you..."
The people on the screen ignored him, and instead looked through a window towards some sort of large building, partially hidden in the mist. A column of flame suddenly shot upwards from the center of the building complex they were observing.
"That's it. See it? Emergency venting." One of the people on the screen said.
"How long until it blows?" A woman with dark brown, shoulder-length hair, asked.
"I'm projecting total systems failure in a little under four hours. The blast radius will be about thirty kilometers. About equal to ten megatons."
"We got problems," another man said.
"I don't fucking believe this. Do you believe this?" Yet another man - this one clearly agitated.
"And it's too late to shut it down?" That was the woman again, speaking.
"I'm afraid so. The crash did too much damage. The overload is inevitable, at this point." The first man said.
"Oh, man. And I was gettin' short, too! Four more weeks and out. Now I'm gonna buy it on this fuckin' rock. It ain't half fair, man!" This was the agitate man speaking again.
"Hudson, give us a break." The woman admonished him.
Another gas jet lighted up the fog-shrouded landscape.
*This is really not good.* Lantash observed. *Do you think we should contact someone?*
*I would think they already know. Where is that, do you think? I did not think the Tau'ri had anything not intended as an explosive device, which would cause damage to a 30 kilometer radius around it!*
*No, you are correct...and the people on the screen did not react to you talking to them - and the picture changes to show the one talking every time. Martouf, I do not believe this is showing something that is actually happening.*
*You believe it is make-believe? Like those...those movies we have sometimes watched with SG-1? You think this is a different version of, ah, a television?*
*I think that is the case, yes. Maybe a newer model,* Lantash said. *Shall we turn this off and go back to our food, or do you wish to watch it?*
*Yes let us turn it off and return to out food...but you take control. I do not wish to risk touching something I should not.* Martouf 'stepped back', mentally, letting Lantash take control.
"Hey, Marty! Watching a movie?" O'Neill asked from behind them.
Lantash turned quickly, feeling his anger rise, but clamping down on it. Showing his irritation would not do, if their plan was to work. "I am Lantash, but yes, we were attempting to find something interesting to watch, while we waited for you." He walked back towards his chair and the food. "Hello Samantha." He nodded at her, sending her a warm smile. "Daniel, Teal'c."
"Hi, Lantash. Sorry it took so long, but SG-2 had returned just before us, and they had gotten some sort of nasty rash from the local vegetation, and it took Janet and the others in the infirmary some time to treat, before anyone had time to do our post-mission check-ups," Samantha explained.
"Yeah, I'm glad I was not one of them!" O'Neill grinned. "Seems the plant-life on that planet has the unfortunate habit of spewing their pollen all over anything that moves...and apparently it's crazy itchy when it gets into contact with human skin!"
"The trissit plant, presumably." Lantash nodded. "The Tok'ra know it well. We do have a treatment for it. We should go and get it if the itch is still prominent in a few hours. Some people are allergic to the plant, and this aggravates the symptoms, which normally disappear on their own after two or three hours, at most." He picked up the stack of papers. "O'Neill. General Hammond was here a short while ago, and asked me to give these to you. He wish you to go through the papers and write a report, summarizing the content and giving your recommendations. By tomorrow."
"Yeach! By tomorrow!?" O'Neill stared at the stack. "How can he do this to me? By the way, why didn't he wait for us to return from the infirmary?" He suddenly looked suspicious.
"Apparently his youngest granddaughter has broken her leg, and she had expressed her wish for her grandfathers presence," Lantash explained, as he picked up his sandwich and began munching on it again.
"Ah. Poor kid." O'Neill nodded sympathetically, then sighed as he again looked at the stack of papers. "Well, I'm afraid I'm not gonna make movie night, tonight." He looked unhappy.
"That is unfortunate, O'Neill. I believe it was your turn to choose the movie?" Teal'c said.
"Yeah, well - perhaps Lantash will do the honours!" O'Neill walked over to the kitchenette and started looking through the cupboards.
"That would be my pleasure, of course." Lantash said between bites, smirking a little.
"Please tell me you haven't eaten all the snacks!" O'Neill complained. "I need something to make up for having to do this crap!"
"I have eaten none of the snacks. I made two sandwiches, and I have also taken some fruit. Perhaps you should consider that? The grapes are delicious."
"Fruit!" O'Neill snorted, clearly not tempted. "Ah, chips - and some of my favourites, even! Things are looking better!" He smiled.
"Lantash - are you and Martouf ready to go help us with the translations?" Daniel asked.
"Yes." He quickly ate the rest of the sandwich, then drank the milk and grabbed the rest of the grapes, as well as the apple. After a moments consideration, he picked up the empty plate and glass and carried them to the counter, putting them there. "Is there a place for this, or does one clean the dishes here?"
"Just leave it on that cart there." Sam pointed. "Someone from the kitchen will come by and pick it up later."
The translations went better than Martouf and Lantash had expected, and working together with Sam and Daniel, they got maybe 30% translated. They had high hopes of getting through the rest over the next couple of days.
Since Martouf/Lantash were staying on the base for the next several days, they accepted the offer to join SG-1's team night - something they had done a few times before.
This time they were having the team night in Daniel's quarters on the base. Both he, Sam, and Teal'c had relatively large quarters, since the two first often stayed at the base instead of going home - and Teal'c still lived there. Sometimes, team night would be held off base, but usually it was in either Sam's, Daniel's, or Teal'c's quarters.
It was almost nine o'clock when someone knocked on the door.
"Come in!" Daniel called out.
O'Neill flung the door open and stepped inside, looking very angry. "Martouf! What is the meaning of this!" he sputtered, holding up the last page from the stack of papers, the one which Lantash had written 'April Fools' on.
Martouf raised one eyebrow. "What are you implying? That is not my handwriting."
"Do you mean to say that Hammond wrote this?" O'Neill exclaimed.
"Surely not." Martouf waited for a moment, then bowed his head, giving Lantash control.
He looked at O'Neill with amusement. "I wrote it. The assignment was real enough, but you did not have to do it for another week."
"You...didn't! I spent the whole day finishing it!"
"It is my understanding that you sometimes have a problem with, ah, procrastination. Had I not made you do this assignment immediately, you would not have done it until the very last moment. The knowledge of it waiting for you would have irritated you the whole week, now, instead, you can relax and need not think further of it. Tell me, is that not better?"
O'Neill stared at him, speechless.
"That's true, Jack!" Daniel grinned. "Admit it!"
"By the way - did you enjoy the...chips?" Lantash inquired, smirking.
"It was you! How did you do it? Did you pour a whole can of chili into the bag?" O'Neill looked incredulous and angry. "Are you crazy?"
"I only put a little bit inside. How I did it is my secret. April Fools, O'Neill. You taught me well, last year."
O'Neill sputtered, again unable to say anything.
"It would seem to have been a well planned revenge, Lantash and Martouf. My congratulations," Teal'c said.
Daniel and Sam laughed, both remembering how they had been the target of O'Neill's April Fools pranks two years ago.
"Admit it, sir! You would have found it funny if it had happened to anyone else!" Sam finally said, through her laughter.
"And besides - Lantash's right! The assignment is done!" Daniel pointed out, wiping a tear from his chin.
O'Neill took a deep breath, then nodded. "Okay - I guess I can see that. It doesn't mean you're safe, Lantash - and Martouf. I'd watch out in one year if I were you!"
"Oh, we shall be vigilant. It goes both ways, you know. Perhaps we should all hope I am on a mission elsewhere, next year," Lantash said, smiling. He then inclined his head to O'Neill. "For now, however...peace?"
"Peace." O'Neill smiled.